As believers in Jesus and His message to the world, we have all learned how important The Great Commission is. For some people it is a very distinct road they travel in order to fulfill this command. For others, fulfilling this commission is not as obvious. Many of us don’t feel that our personal lives are all that remarkable but all Jesus has asked of us is to be the salt of the earth and a light that reflects Him in this ever-darkening world.
Of course, in areas of the world where Christianity is outlawed, a little shining light can bring serious, often brutal, and sometimes deadly persecution. The recent story told by Omar and Sami were of the account of brutal persecution that almost ended in their deaths. What these brave men didn’t know was that the light that was shining through them during the worst of times was going to bring new life to many who had never seen it. Not only were two of their three captors reached with the good news, but another whole chapter of the story was about to unfold because of their faithfulness.
The name of one of their captors is Maggd. As it turns out, when Maggd and his companion went back home, they told the entire story of Omar and Sami’s capture and all that transpired throughout the next three days, to Maggd’s father—who happens to be the Imam of a small mosque. The Imam’s name is Mahmoud and when Mahmoud heard the whole story, including their own personal testimony due to the strength of Omar and Sami’s faith under fire, he asked to see the two HOB missionaries.
When Omar and Sami came to see the Imam, they confirmed everything that Maggd had told him. He then asked them many more questions and after a time told them that he had known for three years that someone was going to come and tell him of a new way of living! He immediately knew this was it and He then asked how he could get to know God the same way Omar and Sami did. Omar prayed with him and then he, Mahmoud, also became a believer and follower of Jesus.
The next thing Mahmoud did was invite the men to come with him to his mosque for Friday prayers. In attendance were seventy men. Mahmoud briefly told the men who had gathered that he had met some men who introduced him to the real God, and it wasn’t Allah. He told them that he had repented of his sins and was now a follower of Jesus Christ. He then told the men who had gathered in the mosque for prayer that they could stay and listen to what the missionaries had to say or they could choose to leave. It was okay. Sixty of the men stayed and the other ten left.
By the time Omar and Sami had finished speaking, all sixty of the gathered men decided to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior as well, and what a celebration it was! How long will it take for the other ten to want to know what they missed out on? Only God knows but He has a way of speaking to us humans from the inside.
This story shared with you today is brief because I have limited details available to me. But we know as it usually happens, when the head of a family is reached, it doesn’t take long for his entire family to be reached with the Good News of the Gospel. Praise God for His grace, mercy, and forgiveness!
There might be those reading today’s update who love reading these stories of what God is doing in the lives of these missionaries and those whose lives they have touched, but see their own lives as rather bland in comparison. There may also be those reading today who look back over the years and only see the mistakes and missteps they have taken. Still others may remember past steps of faith taken but in looking back only see what looks only like failures. You may wonder why some things happened as they did. You may feel like you were so committed to serving God but feel you got ‘shot right out of the saddle’, as we would say here in the West.
The answers are not always easy to find and I don’t claim to know them all but one thing is for sure; we can rest assured that our Father was not caught by surprise by anything. He knows all and has included all things in His eternal plan. If He knows the number of hairs on our heads, He is not caught off guard by a single event, no matter how major or seemingly insignificant in light of the grand scheme of things. It is He that made the promise that “all things work together for good for those who love God and are called to His purposes.”
Suffering brutal persecution or death is not a requirement for true success as a believer, not is it necessary in order to be loved by our Father. All of us serve a purpose in bringing about the Kingdom of God. Some are financially well-off, some are poor. God’s Kingdom has representatives of all races and colors. His Kingdom is made up of both male and female believers. You may be young; you may be old. Are you black? Are you red, yellow, white or anything in between? Praise God! You’re part of God’s beautiful colorful kaleidoscope of family members!! Are you male, female, married, or single? Praise God for the place you have been given in God’s eternal plan! His plan is perfect! But, you may say, ‘I’ve suffered divorce! My life has suffered unspeakable tragedy! I have been in prison! I’ve wasted most of my life! My children have strayed! I had to declare bankruptcy! I’ve had ‘this’ happen or ‘that’ happen! I had a great career at one time and now…!
We could go on and on and on and maybe it seems I’ve taken a detour in today’s update, but we all need to recognize that we—the Body of Christ, are not a collection of perfect people, perfect lives, or perfect ministries. None of us! We really are perfect specimens of God’s magnificent grace, mercy, longsuffering, and forgiveness! He has pulled us all out of the sewer of sin and degradation. We have been granted inclusion in God’s family—not because we did anything to earn it, but because the Blood of Jesus was so potent that we could be redeemed, no matter what our past includes. The Blood of Jesus cleanses us all! As ‘washed in the Blood’ people of God, we now have the privilege of serving Him, as He leads. That may be as a missionary, or it may be as a janitor. It may lead to what appears a “great” ministry in the eyes of people, or it may be something that appears like a failure in this world. Keep in mind, not everything that looks like failure in the eyes of this world is “failure” in the eyes of our Father! We sometimes do the bidding of the Father in order to accomplish something in the Father’s will that does not necessarily bring accolades by our peers.
In an army, there are foot soldiers and then there are those who are trained in the use of one weapon or another. There are those who are sent into enemy territory and there are those who protect the homefront. There are also those who are put into position to expose the enemy embedded in their own ranks–traitors or spies. And, of course, there are those who are in positions of leadership. Every position and every calling is of utmost importance. Many foot soldiers would like to be captains. Many of those sent into enemy territory would maybe rather do something else, but the Lord of Hosts knows what He is doing and He never fails! It is He that is the Lord of the Harvest. He has only called us to trust and obey. As the old hymn says, “There is no other way to be happy in Jesus…”
Thoughtfully read and take into your soul the special promises found in the passage below–especially for our generation:
“I know you well, you aren’t strong, but you have tried to obey and have not denied my Name. Therefore I have opened a door to you that no one can shut…Because you have patiently obeyed me despite the persecution, therefore I will protect you from the time of Great Tribulation and temptation which will come upon the world to test everyone alive. Look, I am coming soon! Hold tightly to the little strength you have—so that no one will take away your crown.” Revelation 3:8, 10-11 Living Bible.
The House of Blessing missionaries continue to spread the love of Jesus wherever they can. Combining reports from the ministry groups that have checked in since our last update, nearly 800 families were reached with the Good News of God’s free gift of forgiveness through Jesus the Messiah, and were prayed with. These then always get connected to the HOB community of believers closest to them. New disciples are made, people are fed as wheat, lintels, and other sacks of food are available and their dead are buried. They learn to understand the blessing of communion and celebrate with other believers. The same blessings experienced by the early Church in the Book of Acts are experienced by these new believers. Praise God!
Pastor R, along with his faithful assistants, Nabal and Monar, continue praying for 170-180 every day as they come to his tent. He also continues meeting with 25-35 House of Blessing leaders 2-3 times per week as necessary. Pastor R still deals with stomach pains and he is having cold symptoms that are so common this time of year as it gets colder at night. Pastor R does struggle with the smoke from fires that help keep people warm. He has a hard time breathing when it gets smoky. Let’s continue to pray for him. The Lord will continue to strengthen him as he continues with the work he has been called to.
In conclusion, this update is another example of “what the devil means for evil, God turns around for good!” Please continue to pray earnestly for the House of Blessing; all the leaders and all of the volunteers. Thank you all for your prayers and financial donations to help finance the work of this wonderful ministry. God is good! Maranatha!
Forever in His Service,